“I Would I Had No Tongue, No Ears”: Oral, Aural and Sexual Openness in Heywood’s A Woman Killed With Kindness

Bilal Tawfiq Hamamra


Following historicist and materialist feminist criticisms, material food studies and the cultural attitudes towards food and female speech and hearing in early modern England, I argue that Thomas Heywood’s A Woman Killed with Kindness (1607) dramatises the interrelatedness of oral, aural and sexual appetites. I contend that Anne’s oral, aural and sexual openness to Wendoll is a complex form of subversive complicity; she subverts the authority of her husband while obeying him in submitting aurally and sexually to Wendoll whom Frankford invites to use his table and unconsciously his wife. I argue that Heywood perceived appetite as an instrument for revenge, penitence, and redemption. While Anne’s aural and oral openness to Wendoll’s seductive speech leads to her sexual openness, I explain that her self-imposed punishment of self-starvation is an oral revenge in which she consumes the flesh that has bred her sin. I argue that Anne’s starvation is an act of political resistance against a patriarchal society that uses food and eating as forms of control.



Food; Appetite; Oral and aural openness; Adultery; Starvation

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/8772


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